Belligerent pt. 6: Violence In Vocabulary

If this is the starting point for you in this series it might be more helpful to go to the beginning, take your time, and catch up.

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I’ve begun to notice how often we use a violent, war-related vocabulary when talking among ourselves.

We’re in God’s army and our faith is under attack. We’d better put on our armor and fight the good fight of faith by taking up the sword of the Spirit. We are at war with the devil and must rally our prayer-warriors to defeat satan. We need mighty women and men of faith to defend the Bible (or God, or Truth) or else God’s judgment is coming. There’s a cultural battle going on by the enemies of Christianity.

It’s true, many of these words come right out of the Bible. For example, Paul at one time or another used most of the same words or phrases in his letters. But I’m not worried about Paul. I’m worried about us. I’m worried that our vocabulary, although Biblical, can perpetuate our violent way of thinking, acting, and speaking.

Matt. 15:18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

If I am an angry, defensive, belligerent man, then angry, defensive, belligerent words are going to come out of me. If there is violence in my heart then violence will come out of my mouth. My mean inner-man will produce a mean vocabulary which will feed my mean inner-man…and around, and around, and around I go.

If I am going to be a peacemaker (the type of person Jesus said would be blessed) then I need to find a way to achieve my communication goals by using peaceful words rather than violent words. If I don’t have to use war-related words, why would I choose to?

Paul said that our words should give grace to those who hear them. (Eph. 4:29)

Is there another side to this that I am missing? Of course there is. If I wanted to, I could make a list of scriptures that speak of confrontation rather than peace making, or rebuking, correcting and judging others. Is there a place for this ‘other side’ of the argument? Apparently so.

I am well aware that my argument is imbalanced; in fact it is purposely imbalanced. The ‘other side of the argument’ will do just fine without me contributing to it. The violent, war-related vocabulary dominates much (not all, but much) of the Christian world and I doubt will be affected by my small imbalanced position. Sometimes in order to arrive at the true center you have to swing far to one side. And sometimes, before you can do that, you have to change the center, your center.